Georgetown University: State of Latinos Forum (afternoon session)

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A forum entitled, “State of Latinos: The Consolidation of the Immigration Debate and its Impact on the Hemisphere” was held at Georgetown University, March 29, 2010.  During lunch break I came upon the Georgetown bookstore while looking for someplace to eat.  I went into the bookstore thinking a venerable institute of higher learning such as Georgetown University would surely have an excellent selection of books on the topics of immigration as well as Mexican and American history.

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I found the section on U.S. history.  There were three racks of books, each rack having at least five or maybe six shelves, I’m not sure.  I started looking for anything that by its title would indicate it had anything to do with Mexico or immigration.  I couldn’t find a single title.  I turned around and found two racks of books on world history, and realized I was probably looking in the wrong place.  Still, I couldn’t find a single title.

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I knew I had to have overlooked something…after all, Georgetown was hosting this forum on the current state of Latinos.  I looked again, making sure to look carefully at every single book and not skim through the titles.  Nothing.  Frustrated, I looked around in the other aisles to ensure I didn’t overlook something and was relieved when I came across a rack of books on Latino history.  There were books with titles indicating they dealt with individual South American countries, South America as a whole, and the Latino culture in general.  I found two copies of only one book with a title indicating it specifically had anything to do with Mexico.  I triple checked to make sure I hadn’t overlooked anything.

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There was one remaining session of the forum in the afternoon entitled, “Impact on the Hemisphere.”  After the panel members finished speaking, they asked for questions.  This is the one I asked:

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“Georgetown has a history of a focus on politics—for example, President Clinton graduated from Georgetown.  President Clinton once said, “Americans never fought for empire, for territory, for dominance,” in spite of the fact that President Polk recorded in his diary a strategy meeting with advisers shortly after the start of the Mexican-American War. He wrote, “I brought distinctly to the consideration of the Cabinet the question of ordering an expedition of mounted men to California.  I stated that if the war should be protracted for any considerable time, it would in my judgment be very important that the United States should hold military possession of California at the time peace was made, and I declared my purpose to be to acquire for the United States, California, New Mexico, and perhaps some others of the Northern Provinces of Mexico whenever a peace was made.”

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I told the panel I believe if our country knew more about the history between Mexico and America we might make more humane policy decisions, but how can we expect that when our politicians apparently don’t know anything about the Mexican-American War, much less the Bracero Program, the Mexican Repatriation Act, Manifest Destiny, or Operation Wetback?”

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I don’t recall the response…but I do recall that it didn’t answer much of anything.  I also recall that the session ended with the moderator stating his support for the immigration law recently passed in Arizona, and I was extremely shocked.  So was everyone in the room of Hispanic origin.